Thursday, August 2, 2012

The well-traveled refrigerator

The 20-something-year-old Kenmore refrigerator that sits in my garage, humming ominously, once purred contentedly.  This past week, it has given me several indications that it may be ready to depart this world.  Oh, you know, things such as being louder than normal and not keeping things as cold on the top shelf as it did in the crisper drawers.  Or not keeping the left side as cold as the right side.  And especially, especially, protesting noticeably after having endured 10 years of extreme Texas summer heat in a garage that remains closed much of the time.  Which sounds rather like an exasperated sigh.

My garage refrigerator, which I named Kenny, has given me many happy years of service and has traveled uncomplainingly and faithfully with me to three states since 1994.  Kenny was purchased used and made the first trip with me to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  From there it followed me across the country to Albuquerque, New Mexico, then again, further west and up two flights of stairs to Morro Bay, California.  And then down two flights of stairs and to central Texas, where it has lived in three separate residences and endured two additional moves.  It has been through a lot: cross-country travel, heat, cold, high altitude, an inexpert exterior paint job (courtesy of moi and a clumsily-wielded can of Rustoleum Appliance Epoxy), and as ever, being overstuffed and in constant daily use.  The seals on the freezer door are absolutely non-existent.  You might say that I'm hard on my appliances.  





You will notice in the picture to the left, that black cord with the hook in the lower portion of the photo is actually two rubber tie-down straps that I inherited when I bought my house.  I'm grateful they were available, since nothing else keeps the freezer door shut.

No wonder Kenny decided that it was time to give up the ghost.







Since Kenny was making a big to-do about needing to move on to the other side, Appliance Hereafter, I am graciously obliging. 






Yesterday morning, at 7:43 a.m., I made the solemn, yet hopeful journey into a neighboring town to buy a new refrigerator.  Nothing fancy, just a basic, white, as-much-cubic-feet-for-the-price-as-I-could-find refrigerator.  It's being delivered Friday afternoon, after I have spent Friday morning emptying everything into coolers and performing Vindaloo's Ultimate Refrigerator Purge and Exorcism, a process that involves shame, humiliation, disgust, a few secret rituals and perhaps some overdue personal reflection.  Yes, I really do need and use nine kinds of Thai curry pastes.  And I use and enjoy every one of those chile paste products, from Sriracha sauce to sambal oelek.  Dried shrimp paste, soup base, yuzu juice, mango pickles and Japanese plums in plum wine, also necessary for a happy existence.  Several bottles of champagne and sparkling wine.  A dozen bottles of white wine.  Dubonnet Rouge.  Beer from everywhere.  A bottle of Lillet Blanc just in case someone is feeling very James Bondish and wants a Vesper.  And I definitely like to have on hand artisan tonic water, several kinds of mineral water and those beautiful little bottles of French sodas that come in flavors like blood orange and lavender.

Because you just never know.

But what I probably do not need any longer are the jars of preserved lemons (preserved past the point of recognition), hand-pickled Habaneros that never made it out of the jar (too scary) and that jar of sweet pickle relish (for someone's potato salad recipe, somewhere, sometime) that I know is lurking back there in all its lurid greenness.  At this point, it's not worthy of gracing a hot dog.

And what I also do not need is the nerve-wracking, make-shift storage that I rigged up over the years on a wing and a prayer, either because there was no existing shelving, or because, as was the case in the middle of one fabulously wild dinner party, the shelving just plain collapsed.  Having cold cucumber soup catapult out of the refrigerator and all over the garage floor was the highlight of the evening.

So here's what I did about it:


A wire bin that I fastened to the inside of the door.  With recycled wire.






I am a firm subscriber to the "necessity is the mother of invention" philosophy.  Here are the milk crates and lids from plastic storage bins that I rigged up after the shelving collapsed.  They are resting on the (gulp!) crisper bins.  It works.







I suppose that after making such a searing expos√© of the true condition of my garage refrigerator (not to mention my soul) I should be embarrassed.  But I'm not.  I do what I have to do in order to support my habits.  And as you can see, they are considerable.

I leave you with one memorable quotation from a very dear friend: "You are not really a hoarder.  No, not really a hoarder because you actually use what you collect.  But you are a collector.  And I'm just amazed at the places you find to store your collections."

And that, my friends, was supremely comforting and validating to hear.   But I also hear that bets are out on how long it takes me to trash my new refrigerator.  


I'll keep you posted.

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